Open Dialogue IX
San Jose, California
Arts and Culture in Rural Communities
Recorder: Mayumi Tsutakawa
Ellisa Collier, Veronica Enrique, Anthony Radich
Some of us had attended the AFTA Conference in Portland and Ellisa reviewed the rural issues that were discussed—arts groups are not equipped to deal with newcomer immigrant groups that are growing in rural, agricultural and small town areas. In the Midwest, for example there are a lot of Mexican immigrants and the arts councils want to provide arts services to them but do not know how.
Some issues are that migrant workers may have low English skills, little time for activities outside work time, they are groups of single men without families that would help tie them to cultural activities, and there are few ethnic institutions to support them because they are new groups.
Veronique is from a small town next to San Diego and they don't have many ethnic arts activities.
We all agreed that there are Mexican music concerts with bands from Mexico that are totally within those communities and not in the mainstream. They are advertised by word of mouth, Spanish language newspaper or radio stations.
Some ideas for boosting rural arts of color include using the local library as a sponsor, making sure families are the focus. Anthony said you can support festivals by charging minimal admission ($1) or selling soda or beer or even asking the city government to buy the booths to provide to festivals.
Also, recognize that rural arts can include such cultural offerings as talent shows, queen contests or ethnic fashion shows that feature women and men of all ages.
Mayumi said some Native tribes are wealthy from the casinos, but don't support their native arts. The storytelling project in Washington with the Yakama Nation is sponsored by the tribal library and is meant to help preserve the native language.
Another example from Washington is the mariachi in the schools project where the local arts group is identifying local musicians to teach the school mariachi groups. But another goal is to teach the regular music teachers how to play mariachi so this music form can become part of the regular music curriculum and both Latino and non-Latino students can take the mariachi class for credit.